Classical music doesn't have to be stuffy and conservative. In fact, in a lot of places it isn't. Take for example (le) Poisson Rouge (LPR) in New York City, a Bleeker Street nightclub that opened in 2008 and quickly made a name for itself as one of the most exciting places to hear contemporary classical music (as well as jazz and experimental electronic pop) in the country.
On Friday, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra announced a new concert series called ReMix that is clearly directed at younger audiences. It bodes well for the series that the DSO is bringing in talent from (le) Poisson Rouge to help launch ReMix's inaugural season; Tito Muñoz, the music director of LPR's in-house ensemble (Ensemble LPR), will conduct the second concert of the ReMix series. It is refreshing to see the DSO step out of its conservative comfort zone and make a move towards more innovative programming.
Symphonies are so used to courting the blue and gray-haired crowds which fill their subscription concert series seats that they usually miss the mark when they try to engage anyone under 50. There's a little bit of obnoxious youth-pandering in the marketing for ReMix (i.e. a cheesy stock photo of a smiling 20-something couple). Thankfully, that's where the pandering stops; this is not "diet" classical music like some of the organization's pop offerings. ReMix is the real deal.
In a nutshell, here's what ReMix offers: shorter concerts, booze you can bring into the concert hall, a smaller, more relaxed space and newer, more modern programming. Oh, and cheaper ticket prices. ReMix concerts will take place across the street from the Meyerson Symphony Center in the still-new Dallas City Performance Hall, a 750-seat space that is perfect for more intimate music-making. Tickets start at $19 and there isn't a bad seat in the house.
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The DSO seems to be gingerly dipping its toes into this pool. The ReMix "series" consists of only two programs (a total of four concerts). But if the new series skimps on quantity, it certainly doesn't on quality. While no truly contemporary music will be performed, both programs feature interesting 20th-century works you wouldn't normally get to hear at the Meyerson.
On October 11 and 12, Maestro Jaap van Zweden will be on hand to open the series along with a couple of the orchestra's biggest names (principal oboist Erin Hannigan and principal cellist Christopher Adkins) in a concert featuring works by early modernist masters Prokofiev and Schoenberg. It's important that van Zweden is there, lending his artistic depth, his name and his reputation to this new endeavor. In the second program (March 7-8), Ensemble Muñoz will conduct Argentinian composer Ástor Piazzolla's sexy 1960's take on The Four Seasons (Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas).
Don't miss these limited opportunities to check out the DSO in a refreshingly relaxed way. More information can be found on the orchestra's website and tickets are on sale now.